Never spurn the Fern

By Ruth Kinane
November 02, 2016 at 03:16 PM EDT
Bettina Strauss/The CW

When we last left Evie and Xavier, Evie was excited at the idea of casually dating and meeting people online, while Xavier had just realized Evie is the only one he wants to be with and was ready to commit to her. Quite the conundrum, I’m sure you’ll agree. But also a situation that will surely be cleared up by the end of the episode, right? Let’s find out!

What’s next on the apocalist? My money’s on making out in an obscure location, partaking in an extreme sport, and then making out some more.

Extreme sport? Check. We kick off the episode with Evie in a shopping-cart slingshot, an activity that ends reasonably harmlessly. With that fun item struck from the list, Xavier and Evie turn their attention to items they’ve been avoiding. For Evie, this means apologizing to a high-school friend for essentially ruining her life; for Xavier, it’s time to confess to Evie how he really fells about her, given his realization last week that ethical non-monogamy is overrated. Rather than go for the big reveal so early in the episode, though, Xavier decides to pick another regret he wants to set right: He tells Evie about the time he stole a friend’s baseball card instead.

In a flashback to Evie’s high-school days, we learn that on the eve of Color Guard tryouts — where she and her bestie Francis Fernberger, a.k.a. Fern, were hoping to secure co-captain positions — Evie was invited by the popular volleyball-playing girls to join their team instead, and promptly ditched nerdy Fern and their synchronized flag-spinning pastime. She now fears that leaving Fern to become a social leper could have derailed her ex-friend’s entire life.

Back at the Cybermart in present day, Evie asks Kareema to find Fern’s address for her. Luckily, she’s ordered from the Cybermart before, so it’s not long before Evie’s on her old friend’s doorstep, worrying she may have turned Fern into a cat lady. She’s changing her mind about apologizing, but just as she turns to bail on her flag-waving buddy (again), Fern appears and seems genuinely pleased to see her. We’ll see — hell hath no fury like a girl scorned in high school. For now, she’s full of compliments and excited to tell Evie all about her great life.

Fern owns a global pet sanctuary; she’s giving back, making a difference, traveling the world — you know, everything our pal Evie would just love to do. Evie admits the same to Fern, and mentions a position she’s hoping to snag in Cybermart’s charitable section, “Cyberhugs.” Fern seems interested, and even invites her to come work with her and the animals should the opportunity arise. The former besties decide to talk about it some more over tater tots at Cybermart’s cafeteria the next day. Evie also manages to find a moment to admit she feels horrible about skipping out on sophomore-year Color Guard tryouts, and while Fern acts like she’s over it with a “I’m nailing life now” speech, she also avoids accepting the apology. Later, when Evie goes to cross no. 17 off her apocalist, she realizes she can’t do it. The item very clearly states specifies that Evie “earns Fern’s forgiveness,” not just tell her she’s sorry.

On Xavier’s side of the “fix an old mistake” mission, he tracks down the baseball card he stole from a friend (and then pawned), only to discover it’s on display at a museum. No problem — he just has to steal it again. I smell an Evie and Xavier adventure brewing!

They head to the museum and decide to hide out in a locker until the building closes, when they plan to switch out the card for one less valuable. They have time to kill, so (of course!) they proceed directly to hooking up — until they’re busted by a corn-dog-eating security guard who’s ready to call the cops. Xavier suggests there must be something they can do to change his mind. As it turns out, there is: He wants a kiss “with tongue.” Evie’s game — making out with a law enforcement officer is on her list — but it’s actually Xavier that Mr. Security is after. Xavier’s down; “French a bloke” is on his list. While the guys get passionate, Evie sneakily steals the guard’s keys and trades the baseball cards. Mission accomplished.

Now all Xavier has to do is return the card to his old buddy. Easy, right?

NEXT: Fern delivers some payback

Not quite. When Xavier shows up to return the card, he finds out his friend’s father fired the family’s cleaning lady because he thought she was the thief. Just like that, Xavier has a new item on his list: Find Mrs. Barnes.

Meanwhile, Operation “Make Fern Forgive Me” isn’t going so well for Evie. Fern mentions to Deirdre that Evie is shopping around for a new job — ol’ Demon Breath isn’t too happy about it, but she is interested in picking Fern’s brain about her work in the charitable sector.

Over a delicious lunch of tater tots, things go from bad to worse for Evie when Fern shares some embarrassing stories about this one time Evie snarted (sneezed and…well, you get the idea) in class. Then Deirdre offers Fern a job consulting for Cyberhugs. Ah, you know what they say about karma, Evie.

We can’t really blame Evie when she interprets a bunch of volleyballs left on her desk — adorned with Post-it notes that read “It’s on, Evie” — as a threat from Fern…but maybe we can blame her for how she deals with it. She yells at Fern in front of everyone for trying to sabotage her possible promotion. Of course, it’s revealed Cyberhugs is actually donating some athletic equipment to inner-city schools, so the “It’s on” note just meant “Yay, it’s a go!” Fern is upset and Evie promises to make it up to her, echoing the same pledge she made Fern back in high school. Fern finally admits she had been holding a grudge all these years, but now that she’s made such great friends at Cybermart, she finally feels like she’s getting the experience she missed in high school (thanks to Evie). She tells Evie she never made it up to her and just “being sorry” doesn’t change anything, leaving Evie in tears.

Over on the Xavier front, the charming Aussie is having difficulty finding Mrs. Barnes but eventually tracks her down to her permanent residence — in a cemetery. Well, that should put an end to the mission. (Maybe now he’ll realize he needs to deal with his regrets in the moment and tell Evie the truth?) Gazing at the four words on Mrs. Barnes’ gravestone, Xavier can’t help but feel there should’ve been more words to describe this lady. He and Evie agree that sometimes, words just aren’t enough — they’ve been going about righting their regrets all wrong.

NEXT: Xavier comes clean

So, Xavier’s off to find Mrs. Barnes’ daughter to see if there’s anything he can do to fix the ripple effects of his thievery. However, when he finds the younger Barnes, he discovers she’s a successful therapist. You see, when Xavier inadvertently got Mrs. Barnes fired, her daughter was there with advice and comfort. She discovered she had a knack for listening to people’s troubles, leading to her current career. Relieved, Xavier lies down for a quick session and is advised to tell Evie the truth.

One regret resolved, one to go — Evie, we’re looking at you. At the Cybermart, Dierdre tells Evie she’s ready for the next phase of her Cybermart career. It’s the Cyberhugs promotion Evie’s longed for, but Deirdre puts a damper on it by mentioning she actually wanted to hire Fern. The corporate office stipulated she first had to offer the job internally. If Evie turns down her dream job, Fern can live her dream. Quite the dilemma.

After some careful consideration (and watching a few flag-spinning videos on YouTube), Evie puts her do-over plan into action. Decked out in her old Color Guard uniform, she invites Fern to partake in some flag waving and reveals she turned down the Cyberhugs job, finally fulfilling her promise to make it up to her old friend. The girls demonstrate they’ve still got it and nail the flag routine to “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba. Hasn’t it been, like, 15 years? Way to go, ladies! “That’s what you call biscuits and gravy, baby,” says Fern. Indeed.

Evie can finally cross no. 17 off her list, but when Xavier sees her in her Lycra unitard, he tells her a thousand more items have just been added to his. He can check off one more item, though, by finally admitting to Evie that he only wants to be with her. He says things feel different with her and he doesn’t want any other options. After a quick glance at her phone and the many dating apps causing it to constantly blow up, she tells him he’s the only one she wants to be with, too. To celebrate, Xavier carries her into a fort he’s assembled out of blankets — and in doing so, they both accomplish another item on their lists. It’s been a pretty successful episode for the couple, apocalist-wise.

And now, time for a quick check-in on Operation Hanky Panky:

With some encouragement from Sweet Tea, Hank decides it’s time to meet his online girlfriend IRL. When they finally come face to face, they have a brief conversation about how we’re all living in a video game — or something along those lines — and share their theories on discount mattresses. Then, Hank asks her to whisper in his ear. It’s a test, you see: Looking down at his lap, he realizes she doesn’t have the same, um, uplifting effect on him that Deirdre’s whispers do. They agree to be battle buddies when foreign forces hit our shores, but nothing more…and Hank heads off to Cybermart, where he presents Deirdre with a bouquet of flowers made of lavender sticky notes and asks her to dance.

In case anyone is wondering what Sweet Tea’s been up to, after too much “combat sex” (something to do with being punched in the penis) with the girl he met at the wrestling bar last week, he’s also been active on the True Soul Mate app…only to be matched with Evie. (After a few cowardly days of waiting for him to do the rejecting so she wouldn’t have to, Evie gives him the bad news.) Not to worry! By episode’s end, Sweet Tea and Fern have matched — this is a rom-com, after all.

Episode grade: B